Cape Breton man seeks stranger who saved him from suicide
Published Thursday, January 29, 2015 8:01PM AST
Last Updated Friday, January 30, 2015 7:18AM AST
A former Cape Breton resident is appealing for help to find the man who saved his life more than a decade ago.
On a cold night, more than ten years ago, Mark Henick stood at the end of a bridge with the intention of taking his own life, until a stranger intervened.
“Suddenly, I heard this voice of a man behind me, a stranger. He didn't try to jump in and solve all my problems right away, he just stood there talking to a kid on the edge of a bridge like you would anywhere else in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia,” says Henick.
The stranger saved his life, pulling him away from the edge.
“There happened to be another stranger on the police barricade that was set up on the edge of the street who screamed to me to jump,” says Henick. “So, to have those two people in my life at that moment – that stranger who was basically pushing me over that bridge with his unkindness and that other stranger who just by his presence, by being willing to make a connection – that’s what made me realize I can be the latter person,” says Henick. “I can be the person who reaches out.”
Today, Henick is a mental health advocate. He spoke at the Toronto TEDx conference in 2013 about his experience with mental illness and suicide.
Henick says he doesn't remember much about that night. He knows it was in the winter of 2002 or 2003, and it was after midnight. He also remembers the man he says saved his life was wearing a light brown jacket. Henick is hoping someone from Cape Breton will remember him.
Henick put out a call on social media Thursday morning, in hopes of making a connection so he can thank the man who saved his life.
“Everything since then has gotten so much better. I have such a happy and fulfilled life now and I really owe it all to that couple of minutes with that stranger,” says Henick.
Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Peter MacIsaac says his officers deal with people in mental health crisis too often. The force has a mental health liaison officer who works with the district health authority to train officers to deal with people in crisis.
“We do a lot of training in relation to those types of calls because, quite honestly, in the past we probably didn't have a very good response in those types of situations,” says MacIsaac.
MacIsaac says, while Henick's situation was extraordinary, he recommends calling 911 if you see someone in a crisis situation.
“We'll intervene and do the best we can to try to get that individual to the proper health authority,” says MacIsaac.
Henick says he’s noticed a shift in the way mental health issues are dealt with in Canada in recent years, with an increased willingness to speak openly about depression and other illnesses.
“I’ve been doing this for half my life now…and this was very different (from) when I was told in high school that we can’t talk about suicide because it gives people the idea to go out and do it.”
Hennick says an important part of reducing the stigma surrounding mental health illnesses is not just about speaking out if you think you may be suffering; it’s also about speaking out if you think someone you know may be struggling.
“This isn’t just about a bunch of individuals who have something happening only in their head. This is about a community of people.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Sarah Ritchie